In 6th grade, at our Middle School, there is a Poetry Slam that brings together classrooms of 11-12 year old kids to recite haiku, limericks, ballads and the like.
Today, it was Enigma’s turn.
I’m often reminded, usually in a flurry of “crap, how am I going to make it to this school event,” of how lucky I am that I battle this WAHM thing in order to be a part of my kids’ lives. 99% of the time, it works out, and I happily took off my yoga pants and donned crappy Stepford clothing to assimilate with the other parents, to hear… middle school poetry.
I read something recently on a Special Needs post on Facebook an argument about how great it was that X kid with Y disability was still able to function somewhat in “normal” society. I really kind of took it to heart, knowing that while Enigma’s disability is not severe, it is still going to profoundly affect his life. Mostly, I believe, in a social way, and in his ability to function as an adult without reminders on how to live independently.
Some of that, I can admit, may be slightly due to a coddling factor I have. Not to mention Martian. But, still, Enigma is Enigma, and as I look to his future, I really don’t know if he will be able to live on his own and not end up in squalor, happily overdosing on soda and Buffalo wings, his hands and face covered in… well… none of us are really sure. We just don’t use his laptop, unless totally necessary.
But, today, Enigma was just a sixth grader, reading poetry. He actually has this little light in his eyes when it comes to performing. It kind of astounds me, in a way, but the boy really loves to be on stage, in the spotlight. So, I sat with the army of parents who were awaiting literary brilliance, and Enigma walks in… in a grossly wrinkled orange golf shirt and cargo pants. All the other kids were in button downs, slacks, skirts or dresses. Again, I fear that his “manhood” plus Autism is going to lead to complete functional disaster in the real world. But, he chose it, I went with it, and we moved on.
He got up to the podium, read his haiku, and looked directly at the crowd and smiled. He smiled his famous heart-melting Enigma smile that friends and family know, but, with an added stage aura to it. With tears in my eyes, I smiled as our eyes connected (not always an easy feat, whether just in middle school or with someone with Autism), nodded, snapped my fingers (per Poetry Slam rules) and watched him walk to his seat…
…which he really used as a turning point to come and give me a hug and a kiss, totally out of place, as the next kid read his poem. He was so proud, and happy I was there. He just had to touch base. Gods, I love this kid so much.
I sat there, sniffling (his teacher later said she saw me, her eyes full of tears, as well), remembering that stupid Internet post about how great it was that an atypical kid could function typically, and the resulting argument about “my kid is special and amazing and don’t label him, congratulate him for fitting in, etc., blah blah blah,” and, well, more tears.
Granted, I tend to cry at any and all performances. Big, small, killer whales, Broadway musicals, first grade “famous Americans,” etc. But, still, the bigger picture, the “stage,” the intermission snacks, and the lack of cell phone service… plus, he’s my baby boy, doing his best to be “normal” in a world of assholes. I think he won, personally, but I’m a little biased.
I feel lucky that Enigma can be with kids his age, and be accepted, to an extent. I cannot wait for the day when he makes a friend. Honestly, unless you’ve been there, knowing your child has no friends is devastating. There were kids at the Poetry Slam with more severe disabilities, and I was misty-eyed for them, too (I’ve known one since Enigma was in kindergarten). But, I have to say, that out of the 40 kids there, 4 were “special,” and while I’m happy Enigma has that chance, I also maybe cried a bit at how far away from the “normal” 12 year old he really is.